10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Melissa Smallwood, 29

Co-owner of The Wheelhouse
Charity: St. Joseph Catholic Academy

The woman who receives the most votes during online voting and has the biggest crowd at the event will be able to donate a portion of the Indulge event ticket proceeds to her charity. The winner will be announced during Indulge.

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do? 
I volunteer any spare time I get to St. Joseph Catholic Academy. St Joseph is a very small and diverse school on the north side of Springfield. This school has my heart! I have volunteered every year for the past 3 years now teaching art classes, yoga and stretching or just coming in to read to the kids. I am a member of the Home and School Board, help set up for all school activities and even come in every now and then to serve breakfast to the sleepy eyed children in the mornings!

What do you think makes a woman beautiful? 
I think it is important not spend much time on thinking “am I beautiful” but focusing more on if you’re making people feel loved and cared for. Using uplifting and positive words towards yourself and others makes anyone more beautiful! I think hard work, drive and determination, and not being afraid to get dirty makes a woman radiant.  And of course, fueling your body with proper nutrients and an intense dose of exercise never hurts!

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of? 
The moments that have given me the most pride in life always involve my daughter, Mabel. She brings me more joy than anything else in the world. She always strives to do her best work and goes above and beyond what is asked of her. She shows kindness, control, amazing creativity, and such an eagerness to learn. She is the best person I have ever met and I can’t believe she belongs to me! 

What was one particularly defining moment in your life? A life-changing moment.
The moment we decided to work for ourselves full-time was huge. We were a young married couple, living in a half remodeled house ( no counter tops, half finished tiled floors, boxes stacked to the ceiling), raising a toddler, testing out recipes, working too many jobs and trying to pay bills! The fact that we made it out on the other side without going crazy is a miracle! I can never say that life has been boring, that is for sure.

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?
I have always admired my grandma. She is the artist in the family and was always entertaining and preparing something delicious for everyone to enjoy (besides her jello salad with celery-don’t tell her I said that!). I loved her fancy necklaces and rings she would wear. I spent a lot of time at Grandma’s house growing up. She would let me watch Rugrats all day on her cable TV (which was a real treat!). She has always been such an amazing lady and I definitely admire her. I was and always will be my grandma's girl! 

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?
Now is the best time in history to be a woman! Finally people are starting to hear women, standing up for what is right and women are getting justice for things that would go unnoticed in the past. This is our time!! Who cares about being beautiful on the outside? Now is the time to show our beauty through power, uplifting one another, making educated thoughts and making change to move forward in history.

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?
When my husband and I first got together he asked me if I liked chocolate. As a 19-year-old-girl and wanting to appear slim and trim, I said “no, not really…”. Who was I kidding, dark chocolate is my favorite food. When I was pregnant I had a secret stash in my purse which he found and ate without me knowing. I went to look for the chocolate the next day and it was gone! This was the one and only time I have made him sleep on the couch.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?
My biggest source of inspiration comes from my family. My husband, Zach, and daughter, Mabel, are my biggest sources of joy. We are seriously the three best friends that anyone could have. Everything I do in life is for them and with them. We work together, live together and explore together. Every 60+ hour work week is worth it with them by my side. The thought of Mabel’s sweetness gets me out of bed every morning and the comfort and love from Zach gets me home at the end of every day. I am thankful to my very core. 

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?
I find beauty in every each person who comes to the window of The Wheelhouse. They come from all over but all gather in that window with such eagerness to try something new and exciting. I also find beauty in all the amazing hiking trails this area has to offer. Nothing beats spending a day walking through the beautiful Ozark mountains, breathing in the fresh air, and dipping your feet in a the cold stream.

See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on September 13 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.